Lent 1, Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Catechism Emphasis, 1st Commandment
1 [And Moses continued,] “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you. 2 “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 3 “Your eyes have seen what the LORD did at Baal Peor; for the LORD your God has destroyed from among you all the men who followed Baal of Peor. 4 “But you who held fast to the LORD your God are alive today, every one of you. 5 “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. 6 “Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 “For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? 8 “And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?
1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”? 6 But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” 7 And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire.” 8 But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” 10 And: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 11 They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; 12 Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.” 13 But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?
1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?
IN THE NAME OF JESUS.
The First Commandment tells us of our God:
You shall have no other gods.
What does this mean?
It means, as we learn it from the Catechism, that We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
What does it mean to have a god? Or what is God?
The Large Catechism provides this answer:
A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe in him from the whole heart. It is the confidence and faith of the heart alone that makes both God and an idol. If your faith and trust are right, then your God also is true; and, on the other hand, if your trust is false and wrong, then you do not have the true God; for these two belong together, faith and God. That upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your God.
So if we want to know who our God is, we just look to whom it is, or to what it is in which we place our trust.
What do we turn to when we are in despair, when we fear, when we desire good gifts? If we fear our world or things of our world, or look to our world for good gifts, then we know who our God is—it’s this world.
If we fear shame, or something of ourselves, or we despair of our own sin, then we know who our God is—it’s ourself.
To fear something or someone other than the true God, to turn to something or someone other than the true God for every good gift, is to have a false god. The word for that is, idolatry.
So that we do not fear anything or anyone other than the true God, so that we do not turn to any false god for every good gift, so that we are rescued from every idolatry of our world and our own feelings and sinful flesh, so that we fear, love, and trust in God above all things, God in Heaven reveals himself to us.
This is who our God is (from Hebrews 1:8):
But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.”
He is our God, the Son of the Father, whose throne is forever and ever, and over all things and all times.
This is Lent, the season in the church year when the church considers her Lord’s journey to the cross, his passion and death. It is a time of prayer and repentance, a season of reflecting upon Baptism, as we look forward to our Lord’s resurrection on Easter Day.
But before Easter comes the shedding of blood on the cross. By that blood, he purges our sins, and, having purchased on the cross the kingdom of his people, he has now ascended to Heaven and taken his eternal throne. He is our God. As the letter to the Hebrews puts it,
He is upholding all things by the word of His power; He [having] by Himself purged our sins, [has] sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
He is our God. He has purged our sins with his own blood; he has been seated at the right hand of his Father in Heaven; and from Heaven he is bestowing his gifts upon us, upholding all things by his Word.
He is our God. That’s commandment “one.” The Large Catechism reminds us what it means to have a god:
A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe in him from the whole heart.
We may expect all good from our Lord Jesus, for by his blood he purges us of all sin, by his word he declares us to be his people, and in him we take refuge in all our distress.
In Baptism, he makes us his brothers and sisters, so that his Father is now our Father. In his word of forgiveness, he breathes upon us his Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit continues to pour out his gifts of forgiveness and life.
In all of this, the Son has made himself our God, so that we rejoice in his salvation, and trust and believe in him from the whole heart.
IN THE NAME OF JESUS.